Death of Indian CDS in chopper crash shows flaws in Indian military


Islamabad, December 11 (KMS): The death of India’s Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) in a helicopter crash on Wednesday not only exposed the Indian military’s lack of discipline and combat preparedness, but also dealt a heavy blow to the country’s military modernization that could linger for a long time.

A report by Kashmir Media Service citing experts said that even as India’s anti-China top defense figure has gone, but the country’s aggressive posture toward China along the border regions is unlikely to change.

A Mi-17V5 helicopter affiliated with the Indian Air Force on Wednesday crashed near Coonoor area of Tamil Nadu, leading to the death of 14 people on board, including CDS General Bipin Rawat. Indian media reports, like one by India Today, speculated that the cause could be the foggy weather, an entanglement in power lines, a mechanical failure or the wrong height at which the chopper began its descent. All of these possible causes point to human factors rather than the Russian-originated helicopter, as the Mi-17 series choppers are widely used by other countries, analysts said.

Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military expert, told the Chinese daily Global Times that the Mi-17V5 is an improved version of the Mi-17, and is equipped with more powerful engines and advanced electronic devices, making it supposedly more reliable. However, the Indian military operates too many types of helicopters, including domestically developed ones, domestically produced ones with foreign technology transfer, ones imported from the US and ones imported from Russia, and this would cause problems in logistics support and maintenance, Wei said.

India is known to have a loose and undisciplined military culture, and Indian troops often do not follow standard operating procedures and regulations, another Chinese military expert told the Global Times, requesting anonymity. He said that the accident again exposed the Indian military’s lack of combat preparedness.

Many such accidents to the Indian military aircrafts and submarines, including a fire on India’s aircraft carrier in 2019 and an explosion on an Indian submarine in 2013, have occurred, observers said.

After serving as army chief for a full three-year term, Rawat took over as India’s first Chief of Defense Staff on December 31, 2019. Wei said Rawat’s role was to mediate contradictions in India’s Army, Navy and Air Force and integrate these forces in a move to modernize the military. His death will likely put the Indian military’s modernization plan in disarray.

With the influential Rawat gone, the Indian government should realize that the undisciplined military could further get out of the hands of the government, making the border situation more unmanageable, experts warned.

On the other hand, the KMS report maintained that India’s defense experts and social media users have pointed a finger at inside job into the killing of Gen Bipin Rawat.


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